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May 04, 2007



There isn't a single person associated with this endeavor who knows the first thing about current trends, best practices or theory in urban planning. This includes the two individuals (kids, actually) recently appointed as commissioner and deputy commissioner at the economic development & planning agency. IMO, this is nothing more than a sham exercise designed to give elected people some exposure in a public forum other than the twice-a-month charade that goes on down at city hall.

Miriam Axel-Lute

It's true there's not a lot of experience going around, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. People who fancy themselves "experts" are often blind to patterns that they don't expect to see. (And, for the record, Youngstown's award-winning planning effort was led by a couple of 29-year-olds.) I'd rather have a committed but inexperienced listener than an arrogant planner any day. Whether we'll have those is not yet clear.

On the other hand, of course, I respect the field of planning and there's a lot of good information, best practices, etc. out there that we would be crazy not to tap into. It's not always clear if people know how much they don't know. I think it's good that they've gone with the model of a special board and hiring a consultant, rather than letting the planning board be the lead agency. It shows some acknowledgement that they need to draw on the knowledge of others.

Also, we will have the Sustainable Design Assessment Team charette this summer (probably), which will bring in a team of people picked especially for their insights into issues Albany is facing, and have them meet with the public.

It's always good to keep the skeptic's hat at the ready, but I don't think it's worth writing this off yet.

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